Topic: Consciousness | Posted:February 13, 2013
As always, there are a lot of lessons in this portion, but there is one thing I want to touch on before we go into the teaching, one consciousness that is important for us to have during this Shabbat. The name of the portion, Terumah, literally means “to elevate;” however, the kabbalists tell us that it is referring also to the secret of teshuvah, often translated as “repentance,” but actually referring to transformation.
The Baal Shem Tov and many of his students speak about the fact that before a person does any action where he wants to reveal Light, whether it’s study or prayer, he has to do teshuvah first. There has to be a minute, five minutes, or maybe even 30 seconds before a person begins to pray, study, or connect to the Zohar, where he goes through the process of teshuvah and finds something within himself that he needs to change. They teach that if a person does not go through this process before every action or connection it’s almost better not to make that connection in the first place. In fact, it says that the Creator essentially tells us don’t even bother studying if you’re not going to go through the process of teshuvah first. Therefore, as you go forward making your connections on this Shabbat, remember this teaching, and take some time before every connection to do teshuvah.
This week’s portion talks about the building of the Tabernacle, or the Mishkan, and the different aspects of it. It says that in the Tabernacle there was the table, and on the table there were 12 loaves of baked bread.
A beautiful thing that the kabbalists teach here is that at the end of the week not only were the loaves still there, but they also remained as hot and fresh as they were the moment they came out of the oven. There’s then a whole process involved where the Creator tells the kohenim, the priests, to show all the Israelites this bread, because it is important for them to see.
Why is it important for them to see? Because this is where the teaching lies - the teaching that anything which remains by its Source never becomes old.
The biggest problem most of us have in all areas of our lives is that things get old and boring – for example, in relationships, in our spiritual work, in our physical work. There’s always an initial excitement, and then, over time, it gets old. But the kabbalists teach that whatever remains by its Source never becomes old. In every moment there is a spirit of newness, of new Light that comes from the Creator, and that’s why the bread in the Mishkan always remained warm, because it remained connected to the Light of the Creator. That is the secret of the bread of the Tabernacle.
How do we keep things close to, and connected to, the Source, the Light of Creator? Through our consciousness. Things become old because the consciousness of man - which is the consciousness of mine that we spoke about last week - separates us from the Creator. Everything that we take, and as such, separate, from the Light of the Creator has to become old. There is no way that a relationship, our spiritual work, our physical work, or anything that we do, will remain exciting and new as long as, in our consciousness, it becomes ours. Because when in our consciousness it becomes ours, the Creator lets go of it. The understanding we receive from this then is that things become old because we take them. And if we take them, we have taken them away from their Source… and therefore they become cold and stale.
We have to think about all those aspects of our lives, anything that’s really important to us, and realize how much of it we have taken over to be ours, and realize that anything that we have taken over in our consciousness cannot ever be new again, and will have to get old. If a person views his spiritual work as his, his material goods as his, his physical work as his, and is not in constant reminder that this is truly the Creator’s, then it has to get old.
Some would say it’s a miracle that the loaves in the Mishkan stayed warm, but there is an interesting thing which tells us otherwise; there are specific times when the kabbalists count different miracles that occurred in both the Mishkan and the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple. Yet, this is not one of them. The bread staying as warm and fresh as if it were just baked after a week of lying out is not counted as a miracle.
Because it’s not a miracle. It’s nature. The natural reality is that when things come from the Creator, and they remain in the hand of the Creator while we use them, they stay warm. They stay exciting. They stay new. But the second we take them over, the Creator says okay, you’ve taken it out of my hand, and it is in that moment when it gets old. We need to remember that everything initially comes from the Creator; the hand of the Creator comes and gives everything to us.
Therefore, the understanding, the gift, we want to take from this Shabbat is to look at our lives and see how much we've grabbed, how much we have taken out of the hand of the Creator. If not today, then tomorrow, the next month, or the next year, we have to give it all into the hands of the Creator or it’s going to get old. We need to remember the beautiful secret of the loaves of bread in the Mishkan and always have that consciousness of “leaving it in the Tabernacle.” It’s the only way that anything in our lives can stay constantly warm, new, and exciting.